Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a modern reworking of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, with a decidedly dark twist. The Knights are monster hunters, protecting humanity from demons who cross over from other dimensions. Each Knight (and also Morgaine) has Lines of descendants who wield that Knight's supernatural powers. There are also Regents, Scions, Vassals and Pages, and a whole complicated organization of Chapters, in America and across the world. The original Knights were magically bound by the original Merlin to the descendants of their Line, and in times of great need they return to the material plane and manifest in the designated Scion of their Line. The greatest need is the War of Camlann, when it is said Arthur himself will return....
This book deals with so many things: losing a parent, coping with your grief, and trying to find out who you are and your place in the world. It's set in the world of the Legendborn, the general term for those who belong to the Round Table. But our protagonist, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews, is an outsider who accidentally gets sucked into the Legendborn world...until she discovers it's not an accident at all. In her search to find out who her family is and what really happened to her mother, she discovers more than she ever bargained for. And as with a great many things in America, the answers are found in the past, in the history of this country's racism and chattel slavery.
This book is beautifully written, with a carefully constructed world and complex characters. I only have two minor knocks against it: the narrative takes place over the span of about three weeks, and there is a major case of insta-love between Bree and the future King, Nick Davis. There also seems to be an attempt to set up one of those dreaded, cliched love triangles with Bree and Nick's Kingsmage, Selwyn Kane. I wish that hadn't been included, because Sel is a fascinating character in his own right. But Bree learns to cope with her grief and accept her role, and the final plot twist, while turning the legend of King Arthur inside out, feels earned and inevitable, and very much something that could have only happened in this country.
This is an exciting, layered, multi-faceted world and story, and I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.
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